Bras: Directory and Information Regarding Bras presented by Apparel Search

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Simply put a bra is an undergarment worn by women to support the breasts.  However, it is one of the most important female garments for many reasons.  The purchase effects comfort, appearance, and potentially ones confidence.

Bras are complex garments made of numerous components. They come in a wide variety of fabrics, colors, and styles.  Most come in 36 sizes; standards and methods of measurement vary widely.

Mass-produced bras are manufactured to fit a prototypical woman standing with both arms at her sides. The design assumes that both breasts are equally sized and symmetrical.  A bra is one of the most complicated garments to make. A typical design has between 20 and 48 parts, including the band, hooks, cups, lining, and straps.  The bra's main components are a chest band that wraps around the torso, two cups, and shoulder straps. The chest band is usually closed in the back by a hook and eye fastener, but may be fastened at the front.

Another word for bra is brassiere.  The term brassiere was used by the Evening Herald in Syracuse, New York, in 1893.  Vogue magazine used the term brassiere in 1907, and by 1911 the word had made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary.

A bra is a form-fitting undergarment suspender designed to support or cover the wearer's breasts. Swimsuits, camisoles and backless dresses may have built-in breast support.

Wearing a garment to support the breasts may date back to ancient Greece.  The method obviously evolved over the years.  From the 16th century, the undergarments of wealthier women in the Western world were dominated by the corset, which pushed the breasts upwards. In the later 19th century, clothing designers began experimenting with alternatives, splitting the corset into multiple parts: a girdle-like restraining device for the lower torso, and devices that suspended the breasts from the shoulder to the upper torso.  The Dresden-based German Christine Hardt patented the first modern brassiere in 1899.  Brassieres were initially manufactured by small production companies and supplied to retailers. The term "cup" was not used until 1916, and manufacturers relied on stretchable cups to accommodate different sized breasts.

What supports the weight?

The chest band and cups, not the shoulder straps, are designed to support the weight of women's breasts. Strapless bras rely on an underwire and additional seaming and stiffening panels to support them. The shoulder straps of some sports bras cross over at the back to take the pressure off the shoulders when arms are raised.

What are common bra fabrics?

Bras were originally made of linen, cotton broadcloth, and twill weaves and sewn using flat-felled or bias-tape seams. They are now made of a variety of materials, including Tricot, Spandex, Spanette, Latex, microfiber, satin, Jacquard, foam, mesh, and lace,[30] which are blended to achieve specific purposes. Spandex, a synthetic fiber with built-in "stretch memory", can be blended with cotton, polyester, or nylon. Mesh is a high-tech synthetic composed of ultra-fine filaments that are tightly knit for smoothness.

Fit is crucial:

A poorly fitted bra can cause back and neck pain.  Because manufacturing standards vary widely, finding a correctly fitting bra is difficult.  Be sure to try on various brands to find your proper fit.  Also, even if you think you found the perfect brand and fit, keep in mind that the manufacturer can change the size specs and the next time you purchase the same brand the garment might be slightly different.  If it does not fit correctly, try another size or another brand.  Women tend to find a bra that appears to fit and stay with that size, even though they may lose and gain weight.  Signs of a loose bra band include the band riding up the back. If the band causes flesh to spill over the edges, it is too small. A woman can test whether a bra band is too tight or loose by reversing the bra on her torso so that the cups are in the back and then check for fit and comfort.  Experts suggest that women choose a band size that fits using the outermost set of hooks. This allows the wearer to use the tighter hooks as the bra stretches during its lifetime.  Bras may be designed to enhance a woman's breast size, or to create cleavage, or for other aesthetic, fashion or more practical considerations. Nursing bras are designed to aid breast-feeding.   Compression bras, such as sports bras, push against and minimize breast movement, whereas encapsulation bras have cups for support.  Take your type to research the proper bra style as well as fit based on your intended use.

Why so sexy?

As lingerie, bras are also about expressing feminine sex appeal and expressions of sexual fantasy.  Some bras are meant for comfort and support, and others are purposefully designed to entice.  With some bras, you can achieve comfort, support, and appeal.

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